Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

It's hard to believe that 2013 is already ending.  I tried explaining it to my toddler this morning and she wasn't too impressed since it didn't involve presents.  ;)

2013 has been a great year.  I finally got First Sight released in paperback, a dream I've had for a long time.  I've read lots of great Chick Lit, made friends with other authors, and even had Sophie Kinsella reply to one of my tweets. (Yes, I'm still excited about that!)

I've expanded my blog, which started out strictly focused on Chick Lit and Independent Publishing, and included posts on Fashion, Recipes, Kid's Corner, and more!

I'm looking forward to lots of writing projects in 2014, more blogging, and of course reading many more great books.

Wishing you a very Happy New Year!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Rudolph Handprints

Today we made Rudolph handprints...complete with lots of extra glue!
We used googly eyes and pom poms to decorate our Rudolph. You could easily just use paint if you don't have the other supplies.
These make cute gifts as well!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Kid's Corner: Pinecone Ornaments and the Best $1 I Ever Spent

Are you looking for an easy ornament to make with your kiddos this Christmas?  Pinecone ornaments are so simple and fun for the little ones.
 


 
 
Supplies Needed:
Pinecones
Glue
Small pompoms
Ribbon
 
 
If your child is old enough, they can glue on the pompoms themselves.  If they are really little, put a little glue on the pinecone yourself and instruct them where to place each pompom.  Tie a ribbon on when you are done and hang from your tree!
 
 
 
So what is the best $1 that I ever spent? 
 
I found this penguin advent calendar in the $1 section at Target.  It is numbered 1-25, with the idea of gluing on one cotton ball each day (included in the craft).  My preschooler doesn't have the patience for only gluing on one per day, so she glued them all on in one sitting.  We talked about numbers, practiced our counting, and she got to glue to her heart's content.  She also colored the face of the penguin.  She was happy, and I was happy that I'd managed to entertain her for over an hour on a craft I only paid $1 for!
 

 
 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Kid's Corner: Christmas Sensory Bin

I started seeing cute pictures of sensory bins all over Pinterest this summer and couldn't wait to make one for DD.  These are a great way to entertain a toddler or preschooler.  I made a summer and fall sensory bin, and they were such a hit that I've created a Christmas sensory bin as well!



Supplies Needed:
Plastic bucket or bin (This is actually a plastic ice tub)
Small shovel or scoop
Plastic cups or bowls (these were from Easter last year!)
Green and red dyed pasta
Pinecones
Small ornaments
Glass gems
Christmas toys (I used a reindeer rubber ducky)


I dyed pasta using food coloring, but I've seen others where they used Kool-Aid as dye instead.



 
 
The ornaments I found in the $1 section of Target.  They are plastic, so I don't have to worry about them breaking.
 
 



The glass gems are the standard vase filler found at craft supply stores.  Obviously don't include those if your kiddo still puts things in his or her mouth!  The pinecones were extras that I had.  The rubber ducky reindeer was another find from the $1 section.

Add a scoop and cups, and your kiddo will love to sort, scoop, and discover!

 

The best part is that this will literally keep my kiddo entertained for over an hour.  I don't keep it with the rest of her toys but bring it out from time-to-time to make it extra special.  I'm looking forward to creating a winter-themed sensory bin in January!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Winter Meals: Crock Pot Shepherd's Pie

If you saw my post on Facebook yesterday, you know my house was filled with the amazing scent of Shepherd's Pie all afternoon.  This is a great recipe for cold winter's days, and there is enough for leftovers the next night, too!
 
Ingredients
2 lb ground beef
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
10 oz sliced mushrooms
3 garlic gloves, minced
1 tsp thyme
1 can tomato paste
1 can chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 cup of frozen peas
3 cups mashed potatoes
1 cup shredded cheddar
 
 
1) Fully cook beef in skillet and transfer to crock pot.
 
 
 

 
 
 
2. Sautee onions, carrots, mushrooms, garlic, and thyme in pan until vegetables are softened, about 8 to 10 minutes.
 

 
 
 
3. Stir in tomato paste.
 
 
4. Add chicken broth.
 
 
 
5. Transfer to crock pot,  Cover and cook 6 to 8 hours on low or 3 to 5 hours on high.
 
6. Stir in peas and spoon mashed potatoes over beef filling, smoothing them over with a spatula.
 
 
 
7. Top with shredded cheddar.

 
 
8. Cover and cook 20 to 30 minutes until potatoes are heated through and cheese is melted.
 
9. Enjoy!
 
 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Fashion Forward Monday: Winter Boots

Happy December!

I've been so busy with the holidays and various other writing projects that I've gotten behind with blogging.  I've got posts coming up all week though, so be sure to check back!

It has been cold around here with our first actual snowfall of the season over the weekend!  Although I have heavy-duty, waterproof boots perfect for DC snowstorms, I love having a warm cozy pair to slip into as well.

Check out these suede boots from Target, a steal at only $28!

Women's Xhiliration Suede Boots

 
I love the brown and grey pairs, but they also come in cobalt and emerald if you are looking for a pop of color.


Xhileration Suede Boots


Old Navy has some cozy boots as well.  In fact that are actually called cozy suede-sherpa boots! 
Right now this pair from Old Navy is on sale for $24.00!

Old Navy Cozy Suede-Sherpa Boots
 


If you're looking to splurge, you can't go wrong with this pair from UGG.  They are suede with sheepskin lining and oh-so-warm!



UGG Bailey Button Boot


 
And what boots do I like for East Coast Snowstorms?  This classic Caribou boot from Sorel.
Sorel Caribou
 
I hope you've been staying warm so far this winter season!


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Paper Plate Turkeys

How cute are these paper plate turkeys?   We went overboard on homemade Halloween crafts and decorations (part one, part two), but these cute turkeys are from a craft kit at Michaels.
 
 
Personally I like how DD put the eyes on a different spot for each of them.  Very creative!

 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

First Sight is Out in Paperback!



Some of my readers know that I've been working on this for a while, but I have some exciting news to share tonight: First Sight is out in paperback! This has been a long time in the making, and I'm thrilled to announce that First Sight is available for order now.

Order directly from Amazon: First Sight

First Sight retails for $11.99 but is currently on sale for $9.91.  Amazon controls the sales price, so get it while it's hot!

It's also available for Kindle and Nook.  Great reading for the long Thanksgiving weekend!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Chevron Infinity Scarves

It's apparent that I love stripes, especially chevron.

I ordered some of these Chevron Infinity Scarves a couple of months ago.  They are lightweight, come in a huge assortment of colors, and are only $6.99!  (The regular price is $24.99.)  I picked up the black/white and mint/white ones for myself, but how cute would they also be as stocking stuffers?  Or teacher gifts?



 
 
How many are you going to be ordering for the holidays?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Fonts, Fonts, Fonts

I've been downloading free fonts again.  There are so many cute ones out there.  I usually discover new fonts through Pinterest.  Here is my Fonts, Fonts, Fonts! board if you are interested in following along.

My favorite new font is Lavanderia. I always love finding new script fonts.
 



I also like Homestead (inline).  Block letters are great for certain designs, and this is unique with the line in the center of each letter.





How cute would these be for placecards at the holidays?  I also think the first one would be fun to make gift tags with.  Yes, it's mid-November, but I'm doing lots of Christmas planning!

What are some of your favorite fonts?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

What I'm Reading: Last Night at Chateau Marmont

I haven't been assigning ratings to the books I'm reviewing, but if I did, this one would be 3 stars out of 5. I've enjoyed some of Lauren Weisberger's other books, but Last Night at Chateau Marmont wasn't as good as the rest.

Last Night at Chateau Marmont

The premise of this book sounds promising: Brooke is a nutritionist living in New York working two jobs to make ends meet with her musician husband Julian.  After years performing small gigs, he finally hits it big.  Soon he's making television appearances, going on tour, and performing at the Grammys. The paparazzi are stalking their every move.

What could be a exciting story of Julian's rise to fame is instead a story of a crumbling marriage.  I was expecting a little more fun and entertainment in this novel.  Although the book did redeem itself in the end, this isn't my favorite Lauren Weisberger book.  If you're looking for a funny, entertaining story, go with the last book review that I posted instead.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

My latest Stitch Fix!

I've been eagerly awaiting my latest box from Stitch Fix.  Some of them have been amazing, and I was very specific this time in what I wanted: fall jackets/blazers and sweaters/cardigans.  I also directed my stylist to my Pinterest Board, Fashionista Finds, where I post pictures of styles I love.  It worked!  I ended up keeping...the whole box!  
October 2013 Stitch Fix
First up was the black and white striped blazer from Mystree.  I love the ruffle detailing at the bottom. 


Mystree striped ruffle blazer
As always, they include a styling card with each piece:
 
  
Next up was another blazer from Mystree.  I love it!  I don't often wear polka dots but this is so cute.  I love navy/white and black/white combinations. 
Mystree Polka Dot Blazer
 
Trying on the Mystree Blazer!
 
I loved the third item, a maroon/navy polka dot sweater.  It's different from anything I own and a fun pattern.



Willow and Clay Sweater

 
    
The fourth item was a dress.  I don't have any other dresses with this shape, although  I definitely have several striped dresses.  Remember my search this summer?  This chevron pattern is unique, and I think the dress would look great with a cardigan over it and boots for fall.
 
 
My last item was dress #2.  This was the only item I was on the fence about.  I love stripes but this is different than what I would usually wear.  However, if you purchase all 5 items that Stitch Fix sends, you get a 25% discount.  It ended up being less expensive to also purchase the dress since I wanted the other things.  
 
THML dress
 
I was thrilled with the great pieces they sent me this time.  This was definitely one of my favorite "fixes" ever! 
 
What's your favorite item that you've gotten from Stitch Fix? 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Fashion Forward (Saturday?): Fall Jacket

I was limiting my fashion posts to Mondays, but this is too cute not to share:


Old Navy Faux-Shearling Jacket


I looked all over last year for a faux-shearling jacket or coat but could never find one that I liked.  When I spotted this one on Old Navy's website, I immediately ordered it.  It looks much more expensive than it is and it's machine washable!  That is a definite "must" if you have a toddler around.  It's on sale for a steal right now at Old Navy--$45!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Conversations with Kiddo: The Bug

The other day DD spotted a bug crawling on the screen door.

DD: "Hi bug!"  :pause:  "He's not saying anything."
Me: "Bugs don't talk."
DD: "They don't?"
Me: "No."
DD: "Oh." (Disappointed look.)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Toddler Halloween Crafts: Part 2

Happy Halloween!

Did you see yesterday's post on Toddler Halloween Crafts: Part 1?

Part 2 is here!


Monster Mash Toddler Craft


My kiddo loves Monsters, Inc.  She loved creating this fun monster craft for Halloween!

Supplies Needed:
Paper Plates
Green Construction Paper (for legs)
Black Construction Paper (for hair)
Googly Eyes
Green paint/markers/crayons
Glue
Stapler

1) Decorate plate with green paint/markers/crayons
2) Cut green construction paper in strips and fold accordion style; staple to back of plate
3) Glue googly eyes, hair, etc.
4) Cut extra paper plate into teeth; glue onto monster



Spider Web Craft

 
This was a fun spider web craft to make using paint.

Supplies Needed:
Black Construction Paper
White Paint
Q-tips
Spider (print-out, sticker, etc.)

1) Cut black paper in circle
2) Drizzle white paint across
3) Drag Q-tips across wet paint to create a web effect
4) Place spider on the web

This would also be cute with those spider rings that come out around Halloween.  Or wait for the paint to dry and draw your own spider.





Q-Tip Skeleton Craft

The Q-Tip Skeleton was the hardest of all the crafts.  I outlined the skeleton using glue and instructed my toddler to place the Q-Tips down.  She loved arranging the Q-Tips to lay on top of the glue, but of course had no concept of how to draw a skeleton without my help. 

Supplies Needed:

Black Construction Paper
Q-Tips
Glue
Skeleton Head print-out, sticker, etc.

1) Place skeleton head on paper
2) Draw outline of skeleton in glue
3) Place q-tips atop glue to create the bones

Have a safe and happy Halloween!